April 29, 2013 is a historic day in not only the lesbian and gay community, but also for the United States, as NBA player Jason Collins became the first active athlete of the four major North American professional sports to out himself as gay. While there have been athletes to come out after their playing days ended, nobody had taken this step until Collins penned an article for Sports Illustrated. While it took people by surprise, it certainly wasn’t shocking, as this was something many expected to happen sooner than later in this country. Oh, we know, some of you don’t care at all, we respect that. We are of the opinion that this is a big deal. If you don’t agree, you have the choice to stop reading now and move on to something that piques your interest.
The coverage of the announcement was interesting. Pretty much every sports-related site took a moment from writing about the release of a backup QB in New York. Collins was a top trending topic on Twitter for most of the day, yet the biggest sports entity in the world, ESPN somewhat brushed it off to the side for a few hours. This is a big announcement, and it deserved to be the headline on ESPN.com and the top story on SportsCenter. Now that doesn’t mean that deep analysis was needed, but giving it the due credit as a landmark occasion in sports was necessary. There were plenty of sports talk radio show hosts, like Chris Russo and Mike Francesa, who simply didn’t want to discuss it. They acknowledge it, but didn’t think discussion was necessary. Probably out of fear of saying something that could be taken out of context. ESPN simply didn’t want to detract from that backup QB who got cut, and the petulant center in LA throwing a temper tantrum with his team’s season on the line. You think we are joking? Forty-five minutes of an hour long SportsCenter were devoted to those two invididuals. Jason Collins was a blip until ESPN aired Outside the Lines, their daily afternoon magazine show. That’s when they really went wrong.
Like we stated above, there was no need to get deep into analysis about the situation. Recognizing it for what it is would be enough. No, instead ESPN used it as an opportunity to give us a First Take like debate between NBA analyst and Christian Chris Broussard, and columnist LZ Granderson, who came out of the closet years ago. From the outside looking in, it appeared that ESPN wanted to use this watershed moment as an opportunity to move the discussion, but it actually hampered it. Why? Because they let Broussard make his Christian view point on the topic of homosexuality. Broussard called it “an open rebellion to God.” We aren’t going to touch on what he means, even though he attempted to explain himself later. It simply isn’t something that can be discussed in a TV segment, even if him and Granderson had the entire hour of the show to get into it. This didn’t advance any discussion, it just created a bigger divide. Here is the segment along with Broussard’s words via BSO:
“I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. [ESPN's] L.Z. [Granderson] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We’ve gone out, had lunch together, we’ve had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don’t criticize him, he doesn’t criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.
“In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot of Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.
“… Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an opnely premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”
And a statement given later, Via Deadspin:
Today on OTL, as part of a larger, wide-ranging discussion on today’s news, I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before. I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that. As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA.
This conversation, or debate or whatever you want to call it, never should have taken place. But it did, and it sent the internet into a tizzy. Instead of the focus being about Jason Collins sharing his sexual preference, message boards, comment sections along with Twitter and Facebook were filled with vitriol directed at Broussard. He made a statement with very little context or evidence to support him, after all, he said it in 45 seconds. Broussard never should have agreed to say what he did on the air, it created more of a divide than anything else. The Bible also teaches a time and place for everything, and in our estimation, a five minute segment on ESPN was not that time nor was it the place. That’s the bigger problem with what took place on Monday. Not that Broussard said what he said, but that ESPN had him say it in the most foolish way possible. They might as well have had Skip Bayless join in and say that the now former backup QB from New York was being unjustly upstaged by this event and that he hates Jews.
But this is what ESPN wanted. Yes, they issued a short statement later calling it “a distraction,” but they aren’t dumb, as they accomplished what they set out to do. They can do whatever the heck they want, because they have no rival. There is no real backlash against them, because they are the only ticket in town in terms of wall-to-wall sports coverage. Nobody is turning off ESPN, nor is the traffic to their website dying down because of it. We are talking about it, just like they wanted. They trolled us, and here we are biting at their offerings.
We don’t care if you watch ESPN, we aren’t calling them out or calling for others to avoid it. We typically don’t watch it, because the ESPN we grew up with (highlights of every single game), doesn’t exist. We all have opinions, we all have beliefs, and we simply don’t feel the need to listen to ESPN and their talking heads to give us theirs. We only know about the Broussard comments because it lit up the internet. It just solidfied why we don’t watch the channel anymore except for when a game is on that we want to see. Just like we don’t watch MSNBC, CNN, CNBC or Fox News. They just want a reaction, and they got it. That’s what a troll does.